What I read
Wild Dogs by Helen Humphreys
What it’s about
A group of strangers have something in common: Their dogs have left their domestic lives and now roam in the wild as a pack. The group gathers near the forest each evening to call out to their dogs, hoping they will come back home. When a tragedy occurs, the group is forced to question the meaning of their relationships with each other.
How I got my hands on it
I got a copy of Wild Dogs through the Toronto Public Library. I was looking for something to read with no particular title in mind, and I decided to see which of Helen Humphreys’ books were available. I’ve read a few other books by Humphreys, and I like her poetic and meditative style of writing.
I wasn’t sure about Wild Dogs when I first saw it. It sounded so different from a lot of Humphreys’ other books, which are often historical fiction set in England. But I’d read the other titles the branch had available and thought I’d give Wild Dogs a try. Turns out, this is my favourite Humphreys’ book I’ve read (and has increased my desire to continue to read more of her work).
A bit that I really liked
The story is told in three parts: the first is Alice’s perspective, written in the second person; the second part is broken into several other perspectives, written in the third person; and the third part returns to Alice.
Alice’s sections were my favourites. Part of the reason might be because writing in the second person isn’t as common first or third, so it makes that writing stand out. Expressing Alice’s perspective in this way creates a more intimate connection with the reader. It’s like reading someone’s letters or their diary.
Since I got this book from the library, I know I’m going to purchase my own copy so that I can underline, highlight and make notes in the margins. This is one of the reasons that no matter how much I support libraries, I will never be able to stop buying books.
You’ll want to read it if…
You will probably like this book if you fall into any of these categories, but you will love it if all of these apply:
- You like dogs.
- You enjoy beautifully written prose.
- You appreciate nature.
- You like books that will have you thinking about them after you’ve stopped reading.
- You’ve loved someone…and/or a dog.
There are several places in this book where the characters imbibe, and understandably so. A bit of bourbon or scotch would go well with this novel. Just be sure to stop at a bit. This book will likely get you ruminating and reminiscing, and, well, too much of anything usually isn’t good.
5 thoughts on “The beauty of Wild Dogs”
I liked this review — particularly the bit about scotch and bourbon. Is it my imagination, or are there a lot of books about dogs coming out? Maybe it’s just that my wife is reading Fifteen Dogs (I’m waiting for her to finish so I can read it) and she and I both liked the recent best-seller Racing in the Rain — a story narrated by a dog.
Well, Wild Dogs actually came out a little while ago, in 2004. But you might be right! There’s a book that just came out this summer called Lily and the Octopus (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27276262-lily-and-the-octopus) that is about a man and his dog. I’ve heard some good things about that one.
Hi Nicky, it’s good to see you blogging again, thanks for this review. I love the premise of the book and appreciate your analysis. My only change would be to substitute Zwak for the scotch. I will keep an eye out for Humphreys. The last book I enjoyed was the Constant Gardener by Le Carre, exploring corruption in the British service, Kenya, and big pharma. He is known for the cold war but has taken on many modern themes recently. Cheers. Ian
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